King Achish’s generals reject the offer of help from David and his men. Achish sends them home and when they arrive, they discover a disaster. Their hometown of Ziklag has been burned to the ground and their wives and children taken away along with all their possessions. In spite of the distress David and his men are experiencing David seeks the counsel of God before heading out in pursuit.
God tells David that his pursuit will be successful, and he and 600 men take off after the Amalekites. You can imagine that they kept up a brutal pace and the result was that when they finally stopped for rest 200 of the men could not go on. The pursuit continues and an escaped Egyptian slave promises to lead David to where the enemy Amalekites are camped. The Amalekites are destroyed, and all the wives and children are rescued. David’s army also recovers all the plunder that had been stolen in addition to all the possessions that the Amalekites had with them.
The army returns to where the 200 men had been left behind and the 400 men with David refuse to share the plunder with their fellow soldiers. It is important to recognize at this point the kind of army David was leading. They were definitely not Robin Hood and his Merry Men. They were much more like a band of pirates. These men were outcasts and had been living outside the law long before they joined up with David.
But all the evil men and troublemakers among David’s followers said, “Because they did not go out with us, we will not share with them the plunder we recovered. However, each man may take his wife and children and go.” 23 David replied, “No, my brothers, you must not do that with what the LORD has given us. He has protected us and delivered into our hands the raiding party that came against us. 24 Who will listen to what you say? The share of the man who stayed with the supplies is to be the same as that of him who went down to the battle. All will share alike.”1 Samuel 30:22-24 NIV
David must have been an incredible warrior and great leader. He tells his men in no uncertain terms that they will all share alike in the booty. David’s reason for sharing was that the plunder had been provided by God and not earned by the men. Once again David goes against the opinion of his followers. The text is silent on their response, but we know that David provided a positive example by taking some of the plunder and sharing it with the towns where they had roamed while in hiding.
What about us?
“Mine!” Every parent of a toddler has heard this many times. As adults we watch toddlers at play and wonder at the difficulty that they have sharing. This is especially true for most of us who are blessed with ample financial resources. Our children and grandchildren have more toys than they could ever play with. There is always another toy, but that is not the point. The point is that this toy in my hand is mine and I will not share it with anyone.
Adults generally express the “Mine” feelings with more subtlety, but the feeling is still there. It seems the struggle with greed is constant. It does not matter whether we have much or little. What I do have I consider mine. The cure is simple. When I recognize that God owns everything, then nothing is mine and sharing becomes much easier.
The challenge is to constantly remember that everything I have belongs to God. I am a manager and not an owner. I need God’s heart to see with God’s eyes both the needs around me and the resources God has provided to meet those needs. Money management is easy. Heart management is a challenge. This story is an excellent example of David being a man after God’s own heart. May we desire to be the same.